Southern Choctaw nips Tigers
By By Jimmy Boone / EMG sports writer
Aug. 31, 2003
SILAS, Ala. No one wants to consider how important the kicking game is, until it makes a difference.
The kicking game proved pivotal here on Friday night, as Southern Choctaw claimed a 9-8 win over cross-county rival Choctaw County.
With 17 seconds remaining, John Pascley blocked a Choctaw County punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown to tie the game at 8-8.
Moments later, Brandon McGhee kicked his first ever extra point to give the Indians the win. He had just been chosen as the starting kicker a week ago.
"We had tryouts for kicker, and I got the job," McGhee said. "I was nervous. but I knew I needed to make the kick."
The win kept alive a 15-game winning streak for the Indians.
"This is a classic rivalry game where the kids play hard until the last second," said Southern Choctaw head coach Larry Boykin. "Our guys just hung in and did not give up."
Many had expected the game to be a high-scoring affair, but instead it became a defensive struggle.
"We knew that Choctaw County would have a solid defense coming in," Boykin said. "We gave them some breaks early in the game, and then we got a few late."
The defenses showed their muscles early as neither team could mount a successful drive in the first half.
Instead the punters for both teams got some quick experience.
"We felt like we had a good opportunity to score early, but they stopped us," said Choctaw County head coach Charles Graves. "We just made our mistakes at the wrong time."
After a scoreless first half, both teams came prepared to make the second half different.
Again, however, it proved to be the defenses that stole the show.
After Merrill Johnson Jr. broke a 19-yard run to the 2-yard line, it appeared that Choctaw County was ready to score.
The Indian defense, however, came up with a four-play, goal line stand, to stop the drive at the one.
When Choctaw County was unable to move the ball, the Indians went back to receive the punt, and watched the ball sail through the kicker's hands to give the Tigers a safety.
After the free kick , the Tigers took the ball at the 50-yard line, and Johnson took a hand off and went over the left tackle and ran the distance to put the only offensive points of the night on the board. with 4:52 to go in the third quarter.
The run for the extra point, was unsuccessful but Choctaw County held an 8-0 advantage after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, Southern Choctaw showed that turnabout is fair play.
After downing a punt at the 2-yard line, Choctaw County was forced to punt from deep in their own territory.
A Southern Choctaw defender blocked the punt and quickly dove on it, but the ball had gone out of the end zone.
The Indians did claim a safety and cut the lead to 8-2.
As the game wore on, the teams traded the ball again, until Choctaw County lined up to punt from near the 20-yard line, setting up the winning touchdown play.
Choctaw County will now regroup as it prepares for a trip to Hillcrest-Evergreen where the team will play a region game.
Southern Choctaw now hopes to set a new school record, as it aims for 16 wins in a row as the team hosts Excel.